Pirate Bay: Court looks at conflict of interest allegations

The case may be heading back to the district court because of links between the judge and copyright organizations

The Swedish court of appeals will look into allegations that judge who handled a case involving the Pirate Bay file sharing service had a conflict interest, the court said on Wednesday.

Allegations of a conflict of interest were leveled at the district court judge Tomas Norström because of his membership in pro-copyright organizations.

Last month, Norström handed down a guilty verdict against the operators of the Pirate Bay site, sentencing them to a year in prison and ordering them to pay damages of 30 million Swedish kronor (US$3.9 million).

The most likely outcome, if the court of appeals decides that Norström had a conflict interest, is that the case will go back to the district court for another round, according to Anders Eka, who is in charge of handling the case.

The Pirate Bay case arrived in the court of appeals on May 18, and was assigned to section 2 of the court, which amongst other things specializes in copyright cases.

However, Eka belongs to section 1. The President of the court of appeals felt it was best that a section that doesn't specialize in copyright issues handle the issue.

The court also underscores that Eka has not been a member of any pro-copyright organizations, and neither have the other two people who will decide if there was a conflict of interest.

However, not everyone is convinced that Eka is completely unbiased. Peter Sunde, one of those found guilty, points to a document about The Stockholm Center for Commercial Law from August last year, which lists Monique Wadsted, Peter Danowsky and Eka as its members.

Wadsted and Danowsky are lawyers for the entertainment industry in the Pirate Bay case.

"Not any of our lawyers are on that board. But two of the opponents lawyers in the same board," writes Sunde on his blog.

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